Timing key in grub control

GARDEN Q&A

Garden Q&A

April 15, 2006|By JON TRAUNFELD AND ELLEN NIBALI | JON TRAUNFELD AND ELLEN NIBALI,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

LAST YEAR I HAD A TRUE GRUB LAWN PROBLEM, WITH DOZENS OF GRUBS PER SQUARE FOOT. I COULD ROLL UP MY GRASS LIKE A CARPET. I RE-SEEDED IN FALL AND YESTERDAY BOUGHT A GRUB CONTROL WITH MERIT. I READ THAT GRUBS DON'T EAT IN SPRING AND I SHOULD WAIT TO APPLY, BUT I WANT TO ATTACK AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. WHAT'S THE BEST TIME? TIMING IS CRITICAL FOR TWO REASONS. FIRST, GRUBS ARE PARASITIZED BY TITHIA WASPS IN SPRING, AND GRUB CONTROL APPLIED TOO EARLY WILL POISON THESE NATURAL GRUB CONTROLLERS. (ANOTHER WASP SPECIES PARASITIZES GRUBS IN LATE SUMMER. IT'S OFTEN SEEN HOVERING OVER LAWNS. ACTUALLY, A FEW GRUBS IN YOUR SOIL HELPS KEEP THESE GOOD GUYS IN ATTENDANCE.)

Second, spring grubs are full grown and barely feed at all. They soon pupate into adults and fly off. Merit, as well as grub products containing halofenizide, target baby grubs. Apply these products from mid-June to about July 4, so they are in place when eggs hatch in August. This wipes grubs out before their most damaging feeding in mid-August to October. We recommend Merit (imidicloprid) and halofenizide products because they are least toxic to the many beneficial organisms that keep a lawn healthy.

Checklist

Refrain from pruning spring flowering shrubs, such as lilacs, rhododendrons and azaleas, until after flowering.

Pull the blooms off newly planted strawberry plants for the first growing season. Be sure to cover strawberry plants at night if frost is predicted.

Jon Traunfeld, regional specialist, and Ellen Nibali, horticulture consultant, work at Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden Information Center, which offers Maryland residents free gardening information. Call the center's hot line at 800-342-2507 or e-mail plant and pest questions through the Send a Question feature at hgic.umd.edu.

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